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Federal Judge: Mt. Soledad Cross Must Come Down

Mount Soledad Cross Controversy.jpg

Because it sits on public property, critics have long argued that the cross at the Mount Soledad Veterans Memoria in La Jolla, Calif., is an unconstitutional entanglement of government and religion. (AP File)

A cross atop Mount Soledad in California is an unconstitutional religious display on government land and must come down, a federal judge in San Diego ruled late Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered the cross, which honors veterans, must be removed within 90 days -- a decision that could result in the case being sent back to the U.S. Supreme Court. Burns immediately stayed his order pending an expected appeal.

The original lawsuit was filed in 2006 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Jewish Veterans of the United States of American and several other Southern California residents.

“We support the government paying tribute to those who served bravely in our country’s armed forces,” the ACLU’s Daniel Mach, said in a statement to the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. “But we should honor all of our heroes under one flag, not just one particular religious symbol.”

Bruce Bailey, president of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, expressed disappointment in the ruling.

"It is unfortunate that the Ninth Circuit left the judge no choice but to order the tearing down of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross," Bailey told Fox News.  "However, we are grateful for the judge's stay that gives us an opportunity to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court."

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, said in a statement to Fox News that they will continue to “fight for this memorial and the selfless sacrifice and service of all the millions of veterans it represents; it is the least we can do for those who gave so much to us all."

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is "God Less America."

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